Despite growing public pressure, the government and the judiciary, both, have shied away from taking decisive steps to make time-bound trials mandatory in cases of sexual assault against women even after the December 16 gang rape incident.
Faced with outrage across the nation following the gang rape, the government had accepted the popular demand. It had introduced death penalty as the maximum punishment in rape cases in which the victim dies or is left in a permanent vegetative state.
The government went beyond the recommendations of the panel headed by former chief justice of India, JS Verma on strengthening anti-rape laws, on enhanced punishment for those guilty of committing crimes against women.
It, however, stopped short of fixing a definite time limit within which the trials in such cases should be completed. In the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, which came into force in April this year, the government did mention it, but in the form of advice for courts.The amended section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) now states : “In every trial, the proceedings shall be continued from day-to-day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined.” Despite the December 16 case having been tried in a fast-track court specifically set up, it took nine months to complete the trial.